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toe hair tourniquet

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Toe Hair Tourniquet

Grunter and I spent some time in the Emergency Room last night.

Wow, those are words you never want to write about your nine week old son.

Do you know about hair tourniquets? Amazingly, I had only read about them just last week. Randomly in some…baby thing. I’m always reading some baby thing and there it was. My friend Lisa was over on Friday and she has really long hair that the babies were grabbing and I even mentioned it to her as I’d just learned about it.

Basically, a single hair can get wrapped around a baby’s toe or finger so tightly that it cuts off the circulation. It goes from red and swollen to black and blue very, very quickly.
In the worst cases, a baby/child can lose that digit.
There have also been cases where the hair tourniquet can be around a penis and one little girl lost her clitoris because of a hair tourniquet.

I’m going to admit here that I don’t spend a lot of time looking at my boy’s toes. We tend to keep them in footed sleepers or little leggings with socks. Diaper changes are so quick because there’s always another baby waiting that you suit them up and move right along.
We don’t linger long naked during or after a bath because they get cold so quickly and start crying.
Fingers on the other hand? Well, I look at those closely at least 8 times a day as I’m breast feeding them. I would notice immediately if something were wrong with their fingers.

Last night I was changing Grunter’s footed sleeper and something compelled me to stare at his feet.
Maybe his toenail scratched me and I thought, “Oh it’s time to clip or file those little toenails”.
I don’t know. All I remember is looking down and thinking “His toe is a little deformed. That’s a shame. I never noticed that before. Too bad he doesn’t have perfect toes. Wait, what IS that?”
Because it wasn’t just ONE toe, it was THREE. Two of the three middle toes had hair wrapped around the bottom and the other one around the top, just under the toenail.
It was TIGHT, cutting into the skin making it look like there was a line around it (well, there was, a line formed by the hair) and red and swollen.

Instantly I remembered what I had just read and how serious it was. Chicken and I tried to find a loose end of the hair to unwind and it became obvious how much this hurt him.
Interestingly, he had been uncharacteristically fussy the last couple of days and we’d remarked that this was so unlike Grunter who is always quite happy-go-lucky. However, he’s also had a very slight bought of diarrhea and we chalked it up to that.

We finally got some blunt edge tweezers, soaked his foot in warm water and I held him while breastfeeding him as Chicken tried to unwrap the hair.
I have never felt so desperate in my entire life.
While I have loved these boys from the day they were conceived, last night it reached a whole new level that I cannot explain. If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about.
The urge to protect him from anything harmful was so intense and I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t make him stop hurting. I felt even worse knowing it was probably my hair and why hadn’t I been diligently checking his toes.
I knew since it wasn’t black and blue it hadn’t been there too long, but how long??

We did manage to get some of the hair off, 2 small strands but it had cut in so deep that we honestly couldn’t be sure it was all gone. I called our pediatrician who urged me to take him into the ER immediately. I’m so glad I called. I almost waited until the morning when I figured we’d take him to the office.
This is how serious a toe hair tourniquet is: I was called first in the pediatric ER even though there were others ahead of me. The doctor had a huge sense of urgency to make sure Grunter was treated immediately. It can get bad SO quickly. He was relieved to find out the toes were not black/blue.
He and another doctor came in with a huge magnifying glass….and couldn’t find any hair. They were amazed that we had gotten it all, but apparently we had. Many times, they have to lance the toes and stitch them back up. This is some serious shit.
I was sent home with instructions to keep a close eye on the toes to make sure it didn’t get worse.
It will take awhile for the swelling to go all of the way down, but it does appear to be getting better and is definitely not getting worse. Whew.

I’ve never felt more scared and helpless. Oh, this little baby who is totally dependent on me for his happiness and safety and I felt I’d failed him. I took him home still wrapped close to his mommy in his Moby and we nursed one on one in the recliner. Even then, I didn’t want to let him go. I just wanted to hold him all night and let him know how much, how fiercely I loved him.

I’ll admit I didn’t know how my bond would be as these are genetically Chicken’s boys, but WOW. I am overwhelmed with emotion for my boys. They are MINE. Chicken even says she feels like they are more mine than hers because I carried them, I gave them life, I feed them with my body everyday.
Oh boys, how I love you. I promise I will do everything I can to protect you from harm.

So ladies and gents, check those little toes, fingers and private parts daily.